LUCA CONNELL has admitted he will have to be patient in his bid to break into the Celtic first team.

The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international has been at the Hoops for just over a year after his arrival from financially-stricken Bolton for a £325,000 fee.

However, the gifted 19-year-old midfielder is still awaiting his competitive debut although there are reports of outstanding performances in the reserves as he gears up for a crack at the big-time with the champions.

Connell, speaking to this week’s Celtic View, said: “Just before I signed for Celtic the lads in the Ireland squad were telling me how big an opportunity that could be for me.

“I had a few options around then, but when I heard Celtic wanted me the decision was easy. The lads there were telling me all about the history and just how big the club was. It was perfect timing to be away with Ireland and then go to Celtic.

“I met Shane Duffy when I first went over to train with Ireland. He and Seamus Coleman came to my room and looked after me. They took me under their wing and showed me the ropes and I’m grateful for that.”

Connell is working hard to catch the eye of Neil Lennon and added: “I’m feeling strong and in good shape. I’ve been working with the fitness coaches and I’m ready for whatever’s next.

“I don’t feel like I’m out of place strength-wise or fitness-wise when I’m training with the first-team. I know it’s different when you go into games and are around players who have more games under their belt. I feel that, with not playing regularly, I’m in good shape so I’m ready to go whenever I’m given the nod.

“Patience is key. Every game is huge and every game for Celtic is a must win. Even if you look on the bench, the talent and ability of the players on the bench is so high.

“It’s always going to be hard to get in, but I hope the chance comes. When that happens it’s up to me to take it.”

* This week’s Celtic View is on sale now.

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